By Christopher Lui
Arriving just in time for holiday 2018 shoppers, Amazon Canada has opened an Alexa Smart Home Pop-up Shop. This is the first ever Amazon pop-up to open in Canada and is located at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, with a Yonge Street-facing entrance near Shuter Street. It opened last week and it will be open through to December 31, 2018.
This interactive and immersive shopping experience allows shoppers to experience what it is like to live inside a fully integrated Alexa-powered smart home. Amazon Alexa is a voice controlled virtual assistant that allows users to playback music, set alarms, stream podcasts, access real-time information including news and weather and also control smart home devices, such as lights and thermostats. At the pop-up shop, shoppers will be able to interact with Alexa and Alexa-compatible smart products in various rooms including the living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and exterior. To showcase the potential of Alexa in homes, Amazon Canada has partnered with top national brands including Samsung, Philips Hue, ecobee, HP, Sonos, iRobot, Bell, Brim, Ring, Audible, Tuft & Needle, Filtrete and First Alert.
Two of the experiences that shoppers can discover at the Alexa Smart Home Pop-up Shop include:
In the kitchen, the Samsung Smart Plug can turn on appliances with a touch of a button and the Samsung Android Fridge allows users to view the inside of the fridge without even opening the door all from the comfort of your smartphone.
This pop-up shop approach by Amazon Canada illustrates that brick and mortar retailing is still relevant. As of July 2018, in Canada e-commerce represents 2.8% of the total retail trade. Although e-commerce is growing by double digits, 15.7% year-over-year for the 3 months ending July 2018, there is still substantial room in the brick and mortar channel for retailers to capture sales.
Other online retailers are also leveraging pop-up shops this holiday season. Wayfair, a furniture and home decor e-commerce retailer, is launching two pop-up shops in shopping centres in the United States.
Pop-up shops are a win-win for both e-commerce retailers and shopping centres. For e-commerce retailers it provides an opportunity to bring their brand to life in a physical format. The pop-up stores may generate sales however it is a great marketing channel to help drive brand awareness and increase customer engagement. With so many retail vacancies due to store closures such as Sears Canada, Jean Machine, Town Shoes, Bombay Company and Bowring from this past year, mall landlords can leverage pop-up shops to fill the gap of vacancies. If the pop-up shops prove to be successful, they even may convert to permanent leases.
It will be interesting to see if pop-up shops are here to stay or will be popping down in the future.
Christopher Lui is a Human Resources and Marketing Professional with over 10 years of experience in project management and working on multi-stakeholder projects in both public and private sectors. He has management consulting experience in areas such as strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, and change management. An avid shopper and foodie always looking for the next big thing to try. Follow him on Twitter @chrislui01 or LinkedIn at Christopher Lui.